Can’t kiss ’em off
It may have been the second-most infamous quote from Donald Trump on the “Access Hollywood” tape: “When you’re a star, they let you do it.”
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But three women who say they had sexual encounters with Trump, consensual or otherwise, during his “Apprentice” days are determined to tell their stories and to be believed.
A New York judge Tuesday turned down Trump lawyers who argued that he’s immune from Summer Zervos’ lawsuit while president. Zervos, a former contestant on the show, charges he aggressively kissed her and groped her breasts while she was seeking a job at his company. After he called her a liar, she sued for defamation.
If Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter’s ruling stands, he might be forced to testify under oath.
In Los Angeles, Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who says she had a 10-month affair with Trump, is suing to be released from a $150,000 silencing agreement with the company that owns the National Enquirer. Its Trump-allied executives bought her story and buried it.
NBC News reports Stormy Daniels, in a court battle with Trump lawyers to tell her story, passed a polygraph exam in 2011 on her account of a sexual relationship with Trump.
He’s just so frustrated
Between sex suits on two coasts and the Russia investigation, Trump seems to have fielded enough legal teams to form a league. He just tried to add a Washington all-star — former Solicitor General Ted Olson — to his lineup facing off with Robert Mueller, but it fell through.
Olson’s firm, Gibson Dunn, decided that there are too many conflicts with existing clients tied to the Russia investigation. One is Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the Russia dossier.
The White House said again that Trump is not thinking about firing Mueller. So why the stepped-up attacks? He’s voicing “frustration” with an “absurd process,” said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Republican leaders on Capitol Hill stepped up their defense of Mueller. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday he’s “received assurances” that Mueller will not be dismissed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Mueller is a “thoroughly credible individual” and “should be allowed to finish his job.”
Snit of the mornin' to ya!
For starters, the word counsel means lawyer, council means an assembly of people. The president doesn't seem to know or care. That said, here is his uncorrected wail for help early Wednesday to his Twitter audience based on his daily self-briefing via television:
" 'Special Council is told to find crimes, whether a crime exists or not. I was opposed to the selection of Mueller to be Special Council. I am still opposed to it. I think President Trump was right when he said there never should have been a Special Council appointed because there was no probable cause for believing that there was any crime, collusion or otherwise, or obstruction of justice!' ” So stated by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz."
There is no word that Dershowitz has yet been recruited for the Trump defense team. Meanwhile Trump took another shot at Attorney General Jeff Sessions based on another TV commentary, this one probably of no immediate governmental consequence.
Janison: Island getaway
Is Nassau Republican chairman Joe Mondello an odd choice to be Trump’s ambassador to the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago?
Maybe, but it’s not a never-before-traveled route for the county’s GOP power brokers.
Thirty years ago, President Ronald Reagan reached into Nassau for his ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, choosing Charles Gargano, a well-connected GOP fundraiser from the construction business, who once headed Reagan’s New York campaign effort.
Mondello’s never been there, so here are directions: Head south on the Meadowbrook. Keep going for 2,200 miles.
See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
Way to go, Vlad
Russia’s presidential election Sunday was — to borrow one of Trump’s formerly favorited words — rigged. But Trump offered congratulations in a phone call to Vladimir Putin on his win, Newsday’s Laura Figueroa Hernandez reports.
That didn’t sit well with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), among others. “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” a McCain statement said. “ ... President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election.”
The Washington Post reports Trump ignored a warning from his national security advisers in briefing materials — “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” — and their urging that he protest the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in England.
She knows cyberbullying
First lady Melania Trump, meeting with technology executives about cyberbullying, said, “I am well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic.”
She didn’t have to explain why. (For a refresher, here’s a sampler of mean tweets from her husband.)
“It will not stop me from doing what is right,” she continued. “I’m here with one goal: helping children in our next generation.”
Some dissembly required?
HUD Secretary Ben Carson offered a rambling and at times contradictory explanation of how a $31,000 dining set was purchased for his office, The New York Times reported.
“I left it to my wife, you know, to choose something. I dismissed myself from the issues.” And it was Mrs. Carson, he said, who “selected the color and style” of the furniture, “with the caveat that we were both not happy about the price.”
Democrats on the committee said Carson’s timeline suggested that he was simultaneously outraged by the high cost of the set and unaware of it.
What else is happening
- Trump is maintaining Twitter silence on the legal war with Daniels. She isn’t. She tweeted Tuesday: “Technically I didn’t sleep with the POTUS 12 years ago. There was no sleeping (hehe) and he was just a goofy reality TV star. But I digress ... People DO care that he lied about it, had me bullied, broke laws to cover it up, etc.”
- Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House on Tuesday. The Iran nuclear deal, which Trump disdains, was one topic of discussion. See Figueroa’s story for Newsday.
- British TV undercover video of Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix showed him bragging of its work for Trump in 2016. “We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting, we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy,” said Nix.
- Retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a longtime Fox News contributor, said he is quitting because Trump’s favorite network “has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.”
- Government efforts to protect state and local elections from Russian cyberattacks in 2016 didn’t go far enough, leaders of the Senate intelligence committee said Tuesday. The panel released bipartisan recommendations to safeguard against foreign meddling in 2018 contests.
- The Trump administration’s cancellation of a federal program to prevent teen pregnancy last year was directed by political appointees with strict pro-abstinence beliefs, NBC News reported. The program had bipartisan support and was credited with bringing the teen pregnancy rate to an all-time low.